Beomeosa 범어사 – Temple of the Nirvana Fish


On my second day of solo exploration in Busan, I braved a 2-change, 20-stop subway ride, 15-minute walk, 20-minute bus ride up Geumjeongsan (a rather steep mountain), and a further 20-minute walk even further up the mountain to visit the most famous temple in Busan – Beomeosa.

Beomeosa, whose name translates as the Temple of the Nirvana Fish, was constructed in the year 678 during the Silla Dynasty, and is one of the head temples of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. It grew under the Goryeo Dynasty, totalling over 360 rooms and over 1000 resident monks, but was burned down during the Japanese invasion in 1592. Reconstructed in 1602, accidentally burned down again, and re-reconstructed in 1613, Beomeosa is nowadays one of the most well-known urban temples in South Korea.


The main square, where you can find the main temple hall – Beomeosa Daeungjeon

When I visited, it was early on a Tuesday afternoon, and there were very few people walking around. It was quite a bit of effort walking up the mountain to get there, but I was wearing sandals unsuitable for walking – I recommend trainers or any decent shoes for walking up mountains!


Walking through the second gate, looking at the third gate

It was very peaceful walking around, understandably because you have to be very quiet in respect for the people and monks worshipping. There were several prayer halls on the main square which you could look inside, but I was a bit wary of disturbing the worshippers with my camera shutter so I refrained from taking any photos of those.


Roof tiles, ready to be used

I enjoyed exploring the area a little – I was able to walk down to one of the private halls, though of course couldn’t enter, and just experience the serenity of the surroundings. It was very calming, especially in comparison to Haedong Yonggungsa which was very busy and noticeably surrounded by urban areas.


A leafy covered stairway, hidden down a side alley, lined with bamboo shoots

I guess this is why it was a little strange for me when I happened across a car park right next to a side entrance to the temple! Wandering around the square and the halls and walking up to the entrance, it just felt so disconnected from the city and technology. But Beomeosa offers a temple stay experience, so it is understandable that there be a car park. You could see the temple stay visitors walking around the square, learning about the buildings and its history.


Drum tower

The only down side to my trip to Beomeosa was the length of time it took. The journey there was quite lengthy, but it didn’t actually take that long to walk around and see the whole of the place. I found myself looking for things to see to make the effort of the journey, and the imminent journey back, completely worth it. This could just be a personal problem though!


One of the gates to the side entrance

Despite the short time that it took me to walk around, my experience of Beomeosa was wonderful and I definitely recommend the trip to anyone visiting Busan with a few hours to spare. Going on a weekday is a very good idea as well, as there are very few tourists, even in the height of the summer.


Ssshh! This is where the resident monks live and worship

I was happy to cross Beomeosa off my South Korea 2015 bucket list, and thoroughly enjoyed my time there! It was nice to let myself walk around without my camera in my hand as well (I know, I took photos, but I took a second lap of the place without my camera to fully take it all in), and even explored a little bit of forest with a pretty stream next to the temple grounds.

It was very impressive in its current form, and I can only imagine how amazing it was at its peak.

Have you ever been to a Buddhist temple? Would you like to go?
Let me know in a comment below, send me a tweet, or drop me a post on the Hannah, International Facebook page!

This is a post in my South Korea Second-Timer series. Read the others here!

My Holiday Bucket List
Part 1: Plane Panic and, um, Personal Space Please?
Part 2: Welcome to Busan!
Part 3: Hwamyeong, a Temple, and Being Spend Happy
Haedong Yonggungsa 해동용궁사 – The Water Temple
Gamecheon Culture Village 부산 감천문화마을
Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁

8 responses to “Beomeosa 범어사 – Temple of the Nirvana Fish”

  1. Rachel says:

    Beautiful post! It makes me want to visit South Korea so bad!
    I have never been to a buddhist temple, but i really want to! Thanks for posting this 🙂

  2. Despite being my favorite city in Korea, I’ve never visited the Beomeosa Temple in Busan. Glad this post has reminded me to do it on my next quick trip to the South. Your pictures reflect the peacefulness of the place, so thank you for that 🙂

    • hlou14 says:

      I recommend it! Though maybe take a guide to learn a little about the halls and treasures they have there. I have two bad habits of visiting places and either a) being extremely under-prepared in my research or fact-finding, or b) only going to look at the place rather than learn about it.
      I really appreciate the comment about my photos. It’s exactly what I tried to do, and I’m glad you could feel that characteristic of the place through the pictures.

  3. Jessica Ayun says:

    Loving your South Korea travels. Might as well as get lots for my upcoming trip this april. 😉

  4. […] The hills weren’t even that steep when we went halfway up a freakin’ mountain to get to Beomeosa temple! But we eventually made it and I hopped off the bus next to the visitor […]

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